Tonight’s Dinner: Chili con carne

When one thinks of chili, they usually think of ground beef or turkey. But what if you had chunks of meat instead of hamburger? You’d get chili with a TexMex twist.

I’m a huge Top Chef fan. Every single season the TIVO is set and within a day or two I watch the entire episode drooling from start to finish. Inevitably there are always a few recipes that the cheftestants made that I want to try and recreate in my own kitchen. The episode that aired a few weeks ago was no different.

This season the show is taking place all over Texas from San Antonio to Dallas to Austin. And if there’s one thing you can expect in Texas that’s chili. So of course the show dedicated an entire episode to the chili cook off. And let me tell you, as a serious chili lover each chili the cheftestants made looked better than the last. By the end of the episode, I wanted chili so badly I looked up the recipes and decided to make some of my own.

While all the chili recipes sounded awesome, the one I wanted to try the most (partly because it took the least amount of time and effort) was the chili con carne. I was also intrigued because it used chunks of beef instead of the standard ground. There was only one thing I changed in the recipe, and that’s the beans. Evidently true Texas chili has no beans. But seeing as how I love my chili with beans, I just had to throw in a can. The result was awesome and a nice change of pace from my standard recipe. Next up, chili made with chocolate.

chili con carne


  • 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 bottles of beer
  • 4 whole Roma tomatoes
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a 5-quart pot, heat a 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the beef in batches until browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and pour the beer into the pot and cook down while scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.
  3. Meanwhile heat a grill to high. Slice the onions into 1-inch rings. Grill the onions until charred. Toss the Roma tomatoes in olive oil and grill for five to 10 minutes, or until charred as well.
  4. While the onions and tomatoes cook, fill a small sauce pan with a 1/4 cup olive oil and cook the garlic cloves over low heat until they’re soft, for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Transfer garlic, onions and Roma tomatoes to a food processor and pulse until smooth like a tomato sauce. Transfer the tomato/onion mixture to the 5-quart pot. Stir in the beef, canned tomatoes, beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and let simmer for at least one hour and up to three. Serve immediately.

More Tonight’s Dinner recipes >>

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Baked chili casserole

Beer chili

Slow cooker chili chicken soup